, Volume 165, Issue 1, pp 161-169

Carbon cost of root systems: an architectural approach

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Root architecture is an important component of nutrient uptake and may be sensitive to carbon allocational changes brought about by rising CO2. We describe a deformable geometric model of root growth, SimRoot, for the dynamic morphological and physiological simulation of root architectures. Using SimRoot, and measurements of root biomass deposition, respiration and exudation, carbon/phosphorus budgets were developed for three contrasting root architectures. Carbon allocation patterns and phosphorus acquisition efficiencies were estimated for Phaseolus vulgaris seedlings with either a dichotomous, herringbone, or empirically determined bean root architecture. Carbon allocation to biomass, respiration, and exudation varied significantly among architectures. Root systems also varied in the relationship between C expenditure and P acquisition, providing evidence for the importance of architecture in nutrient acquisition efficiency.